Dandelion Clocks

I'm delighted to announce that my short story "Dandelion Clocks" has won the 2021 NZSA Graeme Lay Short Story competition. In his announcement on Facebook today, Graeme said: Themes of childhood loss and the possibility of renewal make this beautifully observed and sensitively written story difficult to forget. Thank you, Graeme, and congratulations to the…

Quick Tips #2: Write Small

It's tempting to think you have to "write big" about big issues. It's much more powerful, however, to write quietly; to whisper the most profound things. Even better, to "get out of the way" and let those things whisper their power all by themselves. Often what we leave out - or what we gently brush past…

Our Father

I wrote this story ten years ago, after my father-in-law (at the time) died. I wanted to somehow make sense of my profound feelings at having witnessed his death. It was published in Takahē magazine (a literary journal) in 2013. Today, on Father's Day, I remember Carl Bosselmann, and everyone who has lost a father.…

Wrestling the Octopus: how to avoid writing a novel

At a certain point, a novel-in-progress starts to get a tad unwieldy. When you begin, you have a blank screen and the boundless enthusiasm of a puppy. After a few months you have a mountain of scrap paper scrawled with half-finished paragraphs and synopsis drafts, screeds of ideas jotted down and pinned all over the walls in your office,…

Beginnings

I'm going home next June. I was born in Northern Ireland, and lived with my Protestant minister father and my mother and two siblings in County Armagh, just by the border. In the seventies (yes I am that old) South Armagh was known as “bandit country” because it was such a dangerous place to be during…

Flowers

This, for better or for worse, is the "crap but short" story I referred to in yesterday's post. I just sat down and wrote the first thing that came into my head. What emerged was an unintentional mini-meditation on the issues preoccupying me at the moment: love and sadness, regrets and hopes, the dream state,…